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How to fail in the lawn care business, a lesson for you newbies.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by QualityLawnCare4u, Apr 19, 2006.

  1. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    Ok, I know there are a lot of smarter folks on here than me who obviously have been successful but this is for the folks who are thinking of quitting their jobs and giving it a shot. Wanted to give them some advice and you folks feel free to add to it.

    1) Very important!! Make *** sure that your area can support you! I can not emphasize this enough. If you live in a small area with a per capital income of 13 grand, every city, county employ, firefighter, cop,(no offense to you county employs who do this, but Im serious,just about every govt. employ here has gotten into it and doing it cheap) crook, teacher, has gone into it, do not bother, you will starve because the market value has been pushed down to 1970 wages. Also every big bank, chamber of commerce, college, board of ed has a son/uncle/cousin/ that has gone into it you will never get your foot in the door.

    2) Get the contracts!! Most folks on here figure so many cuts per year then divide it by 12 is great, the heck with the per cuts, you will starve. Here when it gets November 90% of my cleints tell me not to come back untill spring then 60% dont come back, hire someone else, buy their own mowers. Get the contracts and save yourself this nightmare.

    3) Do Not, I repeat, do not buy more euipment than you have accounts to feed them! Do not finance it, if you cant buy it, you dont need it nor have enough accounts to justify it.

    4) Dont sale yourself short, you know what you have to have to make it. If you dont know, go to work for someone else until you do know. If you cant figure what you need to profit then keep your old job.

    5) Do not put all your eggs in one account. When you lose it, it is a killer, and I know this one very well. When you lose one that is half your income will destroy you. I had no choice, take what you can get and kept this one for 9 years.

    Once again, I can not put enough emphasize on number 1 and 2. I have been doing this for 9 years and I am back down to 10 accounts in 3 dang counties! LCO are a dime a dozen here and no one gives a rats a$$ if you are insured, licensed or what kind of person you are or equipment you have. It has to be cheap and you better be sleeping with someone or kin to get any commercial accounts. Im sure I will think of more but these are lessons learned very well. Man, does Blackshear and Waycross *** **** suck! The happiest day of my life well be when I leave the heck out of here and tommorow aint soon enough.
    Good luck to all you and I hope you get filthy rich at this!! I challenge anyone on LS to come here and give it a shot, expecially the dollar:laugh: :laugh: a minute crowd. Try .20 a minute if you are lucky.
  2. jd6323

    jd6323 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    Thanks those seem like some good tips being that I'm just starting to expand my service from when I couldn't drive and just did my neighbor's yards. One thing though, I see tons of different companies EVERYWHERE around town and there's still plenty of work to be had. I guess more and more people are getting lazy and hiring someone to do the work for them.
  3. Tn Lawn Man

    Tn Lawn Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    You are right on the money in reference to commercial accounts.
  4. SunSwept

    SunSwept LawnSite Member
    Messages: 93

    Quality ... you said a mouthful, and most of it accurate as can be.

    True, LCOs are a dime a dozen and everyone starts out with good intentions. HOWEVER, I get most of my new accounts in the summer months when these LCOs stop showing up for whatever reason. Either they can't stand the heat or they realize that 19 lawns is not enough to pay all of their bills. Whatever the reason, I get most of my new customers when they quit showing up.

    What's MY secret. I ALWAYS work on Saturday. I want people seeing me working and I want them to see me showing up time and time again.

    Commerical clients? Nope. Not for me. The closest I get to that is either hair care locations or a convenience store. It never made sense to me that I should get work for a specified amount of time because I charge the LEAST and someone was always wanting to charge LESS so that they could take it away. AND THEN I had to charge even less the next year when the contract was up? Where is the sense in that?

    Speaking of contracts ... It is just a niche that I personally sell and seems to be working ... no contracts. When you have had enough just tell me to stop showing up. Until then, I will continue to cut as regular as I the weather permits. I have had some customers for 4 years. very few lost customers.

    Quality ... I have read your posts for the last couple of years. You are a 'neighbor' and I wish you well. I know that you have a lot of obsticals in front of you and have done the best you can. I wish I was close enough to help. Small twons and rural areas have their own special challenges.

    Good luck!
  5. mindset063

    mindset063 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    Baby boomers are hitting the retiring stage!!! Business will be getting good in the next few years. That is if the expenses stop rising so rapidly.
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I would agree on contracts, I was told not to mess with lots larger than me for at least the first 3-4 years and there exists good reason. Even today with only one tiny complex on a contract, I am sweating it some. All the rest of it is verbal, I even have a 1.3 acre commercial lot on verbal.

    Far as work days, not just Saturday but Friday also: Matter of fact, I used to schedule my day so I would be sure to work until almost dark especially on Friday but on Saturdays I made sure not to start TOO early: Reason is people are usually home those days and that can get you extra business ! It may even be helpful to schedule the bulk of your work for those two days for that very reason.
  7. tinman

    tinman LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ga
    Messages: 1,346

    I will say this Danny. You are correct when u say everyone seems to have a relative who is doing Lawn service. So it does make it hard to get in with commercial accounts I'm sure. Are u still doing this full time with only 10 accounts? MAn your area sounds worse every time you post about it. I guess I'm lucky with all the building going on here. One county that borders mine is in the top 25 fastest growing in the Nation.
  8. JJLandscapes

    JJLandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    most of your shiet is on point except the one about contracts.. we have 120 accounts with no contracts.. We do not want to force any customers to do business with us because chances are if they dont like us we absolutely hate them and would be happy if they cancelled

    We barely use any customers every year and if we do we know its coming because most the time its because they think weekly maintenance means turn my lawn into gold while being cheap

    And i think the most important thing is what you said about equipment. I honestly think its why most companies go out of business they drive 50k trucks and 8-10k mowers when im using a gmc jimmy and a standard 32 scag and giving the same exact quality cut and then they wonder why i can undercut them by $2.00 a week.. Another one is using a pos scotts hand spreader that was $20 instead of a $2-300 "commercial" spreader

    Key point i think every successful person i know uses is "dont fix it or throw it out till its completely broken"
  9. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    Tinman, it started really going down 3 years ago. I did ok up until then and everyone decided to go into lawn care plus my area has a low income.
  10. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    Thanks Wayne, what part of good ol Georgia are you in? I know there are some good money making places in Georgia but SE Georgia just aint it.

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